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The walls of conduit arteries undergo cyclic stretching from the periodic fluctuation of arterial pressure. Atherosclerotic lesions have been shown to localize to regions of excessive stretching of the arterial wall. We employed a displacement encoding with stimulated echoes (DENSE) sequence to image the motion of the common carotid artery wall and map the two-dimensional (2D) circumferential strain. The sequence utilizes a fully-balanced steady-state free-precession (SSFP) readout with 0.60 mm in-plane resolution. Preliminary results in volunteers at 1.5T (N= 4) and 3.0T (N= 17) are compared to measurements of the lumen circumference from cine images. The agreement between the two independent measurements at both field strengths (P≤ 0.001) supports the use of DENSE as a means to map the pulsatile strain in the carotid artery wall. Magn Reson Med 60:8–13, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.